BASKETBALL: Wits Bucks win at home over UJ Orange Wave 

Wits men’s basketball team defeat 2022 Gauteng Universities Basketball League champions University of Johannesburg (UJ). 

Wits University men’s basketball team secured a 56 – 51 victory over UJ senior men’s team, qualifying for the next stage of the Gauteng Universities Basketball League (GUBL) tournament.  

Wits Bucks’ Jacques Mahanga dribbling from half-court to the rim. Photo: Morongoa Masebe.

The Wits Bucks hosted rivals and defending champions, UJ Orange Wave, on Wits’ west campus in Hall 29, on Sunday May, 21. 

From the first whistle UJ dominated the game, with Peace Famodimu securing two points, only three minutes into the start of the first quarter.  

Wits Bucks responded quickly, equalising the score, but UJ wasted no time in regaining their advantage, with an impressive three-pointer from Nimo Dim. This was the first of the two three-pointers by the same player, that put UJ well in the lead for the rest of the first quarter. 

UJ’s defence seemed impenetrable as the Wits side struggled to keep the ball out of their half of the court. The man-to-man defence of the UJ side helped them apply pressure and maintain possession of the ball. 

The match was tight throughout, although UJ stayed in the lead for most of the first and second quarters, it was always with a one or two-point margin.  

Towards the end of the second quarter, Wits Bucks’ small forward, Panashe Dumbu’s basket brought the score to a tie, after scoring two free throws. Wits quickly gained the lead when shooting guard, Jacques Mahanga dribbled twice past UJ’s tight defence to sink the ball in the hoop, but the lead was short-lived. 

When a Wits player was tackled, the Wits coach shouted profanities at the referee for not calling the foul. The coach’s actions cost the team two technical fouls, resulting in three free throws for the away side. Two of the three free throws hit the mark. 

UJ went into the third quarter without their captain Adrien Belo, who was taken out with an ankle injury at the end of the second quarter.  

The third quarter saw four more points awarded to Wits Bucks, and the gradual end of UJ’s lead.   

Thandiwe Padzuwa, a spectator, told Wits Vuvuzela that “UJ was under pressure, and they started fumbling the ball too much. They started committing a lot of turnovers”. A turnover is a loss of possession, due to fouls or defensive rebounds.  

Wits Bucks strengthened their defence in the last quarter, and had every man tightly marked, making it difficult for UJ to find space to move the ball.  

UJ Player Davison Chivero said his team was expecting to win but they were hesitant. He said Wits Bucks “were winning every chance ball, I think they were a bit more eager to win than we were”.  

Wits Bucks coach Tshiamo Ngakane said that they have beaten UJ before and walked into the game with high expectations, “it’s always a big game, it’s always a tough game, but we have got a good squad.”  

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits Bucks’ Panashe Dumbu (13) defending with both hands up. Photo: Morongoa Masebe.

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‘Teamwork makes the dream work’

Wits’ women basketball players have outshone their male counterparts in the 2014 season, taking gold in the national league and tying for first place in the provincial league.

The women’s team, Wits Lady Bucks, is now regarded as “the best university team in the country for the 2014 season”, according to team captain Modiegi Mokoka, 3rd year BSc Construction Studies.  The team won the University Sports South Africa (USSA) basketball national championships in July.

Team work

Since then, the team has continued competing in the Gauteng Women’s Basketball League and the Gauteng University Basketball League (GBUL), in which they tied with the Vaal University of Technology for first place.

The men’s team came third in their division in the USSA national championships.

This year, the women’s team adopted a “win at all costs” system as opposed to the “everyone must play” approach of previous years, said Mokoka. Their successful performance this year was attributed to team work.

“We listened, we had confidence, we executed but, most of all, we played for each other. We went from 4th place to number one in the country. There’s no better progress than that,” she said.

After years of competing in the USSA championships, this was the first time the team took the top title, having progressed from sixth place in 2011 to first in 2014.

“We had faith,” said Patience Gumbo, BHSc Honours in Forensic Science and vice-chairperson of the club.  “We wanted to win it.  We really were determined this time. We have gone through so much and pushed through so much that we deserved and owed it to ourselves to give it all.”

The core team competed together since 2010, said Gumbo.  “Bit by bit, we kind of became who we are now, but we are still growing … We have been improving over the years and winning USSA national championships showed that.”

“Losing to VUT constantly by two points since the 2012 season pushed us to our limit.” 

The win had inspired and motivated the team to keep working harder, she said. “The other teams won’t be easier on us and they are just going to keep pushing harder.”

The toughest teams in the competition were Cape Peninsula University of Technology which reached the finals in 2012 and 2013, and Vaal University of Technology (VUT).  VUT were national champions for six years in a row, according to Coach William Matlakala, who has coached the women since 2010.

Game change

“The biggest pusher was that we were tired of defeat,” said Mokoka. “Losing to VUT constantly by two points since the 2012 season pushed us to our limit.”

She said VUT’s team consisted of national and international players and the entire team was on full sports bursaries (tuition and accommodation).  This made it easier for the team to be “basketball orientated”, compared to Witsies who played for the “love of it”.

“VUT and CPUT have scholarships for their players and athletes,” confirmed Matlakala. “We can’t do the same so that has been the main challenge.”

Mokoka said the team’s dynamics were “play as a team to win as a team”, but individuals had opportunities to improve on their own goals.  Their plans were to continue their success until the end of 2014 and to develop new players for the new season in 2015.

Coach Matlakala said defending the championship next year would be much harder, but fortunately, only a small number of players were due to graduate at the end of the year.  Before the end of 2015, they hoped to recruit new and advanced players.

GUBL games will take place this Sunday, from 9am to 5.45pm at Hall 29.

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